Monday, August 15, 2016

Gay Squared

Gay squared: as in, both gay and happy. Is it possible?

After I finished Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, I decided to start a blog to find out what you think, and share my evolving thoughts on the subject.

The Happiness Project sat on my shelf for almost three years before I picked it up. It’d been given to me by Liz, my best friend from college and a straight woman, at a time when our relationship was strained. I didn’t picked it up for the same reason I never picked up the books called “Finding Your Pathway to God,” and the like, given to me by my mother from the age of thirteen onward. A gift in the form of a judgement.

I finally did pick Rubin's book up, following a yoga weekend, Liz’s alternative bachelorette party, during the summer of 2016. It was a quick read, pleasant and light. I liked the businesslike approach Rubin took to her own life and improvement. It felt familiar. Familiar, too was her self-deprecation, her love of urban life and her too-quick criticism of others, especially those closest to her. What wasn’t familiar, however, was her straight, nuclear family: loving husband, adorable girls, one set of grandparents around the corner, the other across the country but very present.

I’m a 34-year-old queer woman, the daughter of an Evangelical Christian and a Catholic, living with my Korean girlfriend, Sonia, in a major east coast city. Sonia is first generation American and has an actual language barrier with her own parents; my parents and I all speak English, but as you’ll see in future posts, that doesn’t always mean that communication happens.

Rubin’s book brought up some questions for me. What does happiness look like for LGBTQ people who can’t share their happiness with the tribe in which they were raised? (There are still too many of us in that boat.) How do we affirm our happiness in a way that makes it easy for others to see, regardless of creed? Perhaps most importantly, how do we protect our happiness from those who would demean it?

Alongside these questions, for me, is a unique relationship to technology highlighted in Anna Garvey’s article on the Oregon Trail Generation. I was born in 1981. In sixth grade, I typed the log of my science fair project on a typewriter; I stenciled the backboard with stencils purchased at A.C. Moore. The very next year, I typed my science project into our Apple computer and printed the pages out on our dot matrix printer, carefully removing those perforated edges.

As I was growing up, so was the internet. I remember venturing into my first chat rooms in seventh grade, meeting kids like me (at least, I hope they were kids) from around the country, making small talk and feeling the world open up. Prior to that, I’d only had books as evidence of what regular life was like outside my little nuclear family and immediate experience. Books and TV didn’t count, to my mind; that wasn’t regular life.

Now the director of a regional nonprofit, I cut my teeth using online outreach to find constituents at a time when most of my supervisors were still learning what social media was. From then to now, when I have found myself stymied, personally or professionally, I have turned to the web in various forms, whether it’s learning a new application or finding a top ten list of ways to talk to your Evangelical mother. Sonia and I met on OKCupid almost three years ago.

Which brings me to my relationship with you, reader. I'm looking for something, and believe in the discipline of daily writing practice, but it's easier with an audience.

What does gay happiness look like today, and how do we affirm it?

I look forward to sharing my observations, analyses and stories, and reading yours.

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